Donnerstag, 11. November 2010

Set-up of an Automatic Weather Station on Potter Glacier, Warszawa Icefield

The first two days here were exceptionally good weather as it turns out. We found a nice place for the set-up of our station, did the transport of all equipment and started with the installation of masts. During the following days the weather turned back to 'normal' with heavy winds and low cloud cover. As it turned out, our site was situated just a bit too high on the glacier, and every time, Matthias and I went to our site, the snow drift started just about a hundred meters before our measurement site.. So we digged out the mast tripods, herings and cases that were by then covered with a thick snow layer, and moved the whole equipment to a new site a bit lower. A lot of work but with the promise of more days with good working conditions. These are few anyway.

Since nearly all heavy material is now on the glacier, we park our skidoos at the end of a snow field near the beach and walk home. This makes a wonderful start and end of a working day, since it is a beautiful shore with a grand panorama on the glacier. We walk by penguins, sea elephants and see a lot of sea birds sailing against the wind. 

We used the bad weather yesterday for extra preparations and the calibration of our eddy covariance system. This directly measures atmospheric turbulence and fluxes of energy like latent and sensible heat as well as carbon dioxide. Today is just another day with heavy winds. Nevertheless, we went to our site but the glacier was in a thick cloud layer as low as 200m or less. The multiple reflections between snow cover and cloud layer make it impossible to see any contours (also called 'white out'). We drove to our station by GPS. Since within the clouds the winds were heavily loaded with graupel and snow pellets, work was impossible without getting snow and humidity into every piece of equipment.

For tomorrow the forecast looks good, and we hope to get everything up and running by then.

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